Monthly Archives: April 2015

Tips for picking pet friendly homes

Tips For Picking Pet Friendly Homes

Most home buyers have at least a few must-have property features they search for when looking for their new home. As a pet owner, there are a few extra key features you and your furry family members might benefit from as well. Here we list the practical property features of pet friendly homes.

Yard space

For dogs, the amount of space you’ll need will depend on your dog’s breed and their activity level. However even non-energetic breeds will benefit from at least a small outdoor area where they can run around, get some sun and do their business!

Looking for a unit or townhouse? Have a look nearby for good walking paths, trails or parks so that walking your pup is easy if there isn’t a yard. Make sure you also ask the sales consultant or seller about any Body Corporate or council guidelines that may place restrictions on pets in units or town houses.

Secure fencing

It’s one thing to have a nice outdoor area, but if it’s unfenced or the fencing is in poor condition, you could risk coming home to an empty yard. If you fall in love with a property that isn’t fenced properly, just be sure to keep the cost of fencing in mind when negotiating, or provide the seller or sales consultant with feedback if poor fencing is a deal-breaker for you and your pooch.

Tiled or wooden floors

If you like to have your pets indoors with the family, then it may be best to look for a home that is mostly tiled, or has wooden floorboards, as carpet can quickly collect pet hair and paw prints.

Check with the seller or sales consultant what is under carpeting, as some older homes can actually have wooden floorboards underneath which can be polished. This way you can do away with any carpeting without having to lay replacement flooring. Wooden floors tend to be a more attractive feature to buyers as well, helping with re-sale.

Window ledges

Any experienced cat owner knows our feline friends love a place to perch and watch the goings on outside. Look for windows that have a small interior ledge for perching.

Existing pet doors

Some homes may have an existing pet door allowing easy access for your pets to get in and out of the home when you’re at work. It’s a pretty common and handy feature, especially if you don’t have to buy and install one yourself.

Keep your pets fire safe!

Having pet doors installed helps ensure your pets can escape in the event of a fire – without the aid of their owner. Should your house or apartment be on multiple levels you might consider creating pet doors or a way for your pet to get out onto the roof or balcony. Although you may not want to have them stuck at a height, the door could be electronically triggered by the fire alarm – thus keeping your furry loved one safe. Fire alarm installers can help you find a secure yet save method to provide egress for your pet.

Separate laundry

If feeding your cat and or/storing your cats litter box inside, a laundry separate from kitchen and bathroom areas is a must. Separate laundries keep smells, and unsightly bowls and boxes from visitors.

Pet friendly neighbourhood

The last consideration is to look for a pet-friendly neighbourhood. Do the neighbours have pets? If so, they’re probably less likely to complain if a cat visits their yard, or a dog barks now and again. Are there pet-friendly café’s nearby? Any dog parks or off-lead beaches?

Take a weekend to look at the overall neighbourhood you’re looking in and see if it would suit both you and your four-legged friends.


Understanding landlord-tenant law

Understanding Landlord-Tenant Law

If you’ve recently bought your own investment property, you may be weighing up the pros and cons of managing the property yourself. One of the key considerations to take into account will be ensuring you have a good understanding of landlord-tenant law in your state or territory.

In a lot of cases, conflict between landlords and tenants arises from a lack of understanding of the responsibilities and obligations for both parties, so making sure you’re across relevant landlord-tenant laws and property laws is essential.

Landlord and tenant laws are usually governed separately in each state or territory, so it’s important to research the laws applicable to your area. A lot of this information is available online on local government websites.

What is usually covered in landlord and tenant laws?

These laws usually cover a range of areas that protect both you as a landlord and your tenant, such as:

  • A tenants rights under the act and tenancy agreement
  • A tenants obligations under the act and tenancy agreement
  • Terms of a standard tenancy agreement, including things like; how much notice a tenant must be given before rent is increased, notice period to leave etc.
  • Any terms that are prohibited under a tenancy agreement, for example; insisting that a tenant must use the services of a specified person or business.

Did you know?

In most areas, additional terms can be agreed on between a landlord and tenants if:

  • Both you and your tenant agree to them
  • They don’t conflict with any acts or legislation
  • The don’t conflict with the terms of a standard agreement

Agreeing on rent amounts

If managing your own property, both you and your tenants can freely come to an agreement on a fair rental amount in most areas. There are several factors you will need to take into account when reaching a fair price. These factors include:

  • Location of property
  • Condition of property
  • Size of property – including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Age of property
  • And perhaps most importantly, rental amounts for similar properties in the area

It’s very important that you understand what you need to do in your local area when it comes to setting or changing a rental amount under your states tenancy laws. Depending on your area, the amount of times you are able to change the rental amount on your property in a year or within a lease term will vary, so it’s important to keep across this.

It’s also important you issue your tenants notice of a change in the rental amount well in advance. In many areas a specified period of time is required.

Deposits and bonds

In Australia, a bond amount is generally collected from tenants at the start of a lease agreement which is then held and used as a security deposit in the event a tenant fails to pay rent, or seriously damages a property.

The amount of bond which can be collected, how it can be collected and where it needs to be held varies and can be very different from state to state, so again it’s important to keep up-to-date with the laws in your area.

Rent is also often paid in advance at the start of an agreement, anywhere from two weeks up to a month – however the maximum amount allowed to be collected varies from place to place, so it’s important as a landlord you know exactly how much can be collected.

Duration of contracts and evictions

In Australia, there are two types of tenancy agreements:

  • Fixed term tenancies – for a specific period of time
  • Periodic tenancies – week to week, or month to month

As a landlord, you can give notice to terminate an agreement in writing with a specific period of notice. The period of notice generally varies from state to state.

When a rental agreement expires, there are several rules around what happens next, and it largely depends on the situation and what you’d like to do with the property as the landlord.

The best thing to do when deciding on a term for your rental agreement is to look up the relevant landlord-tenant law for your area to make sure you’re across notice periods, ending agreements, and next steps.

What can a property manager help with?

In a nutshell, a property manager can deal with all of the above. Property managers must continually improve their knowledge on all legislative changes and landlord-tenant law ensuring all clients and their properties are well protected.

Your property manager understands what can be included and agreed upon within a contract, and what both you and your tenant’s obligations are. They can also recommend fair rental prices and do the legwork for you, researching the market and recommending changes periodically.

Property managers need to be across all relevant laws which deal with both fixed term and periodic tenancies, and they’ll be able to remind you when an agreement is up for renewal, well in advance so you can make a decision about what you’d like to do with your property next.

If you’re looking for a new tenant, your property manager can handle the advertising, and interviewing and vetting of potential tenants, before letting you have the final say.

One final thing a property manager can help you with is sourcing service providers such as plumbers and builders that are also legally compliant. As a landlord you may also be held responsible for ensuring such suppliers are registered and complying with their own industry regulations.

If you don’t always have the time to stay on top landlord-tenant laws, and the legwork that goes along with it, talk to Harcourts about managing your property so you can relax and do more of what you love.

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Landlord-tenant law


Easy Tips For Earth Day

Easy Eco Tips For Earth Day

This Earth Day take a look at some of the things you can do to make your home more Earth-friendly.

Let there be light

Switch out older styles of lightbulbs for energy efficient bulbs. These aren’t just eco-friendly, they can reduce your power bill as well! Like your lighting to be warm? Energy efficient bulbs now come in a range of shades from cool to warm, so you can pick the bulb which suits your home.

Switch to solar

Solar panels work by using the suns energy to power your home. Not only are they the more eco-friendly alternative, they too can dramatically reduce your power bill, depending on how many you have. The more panels you have installed, the greater the energy savings!

Install insulation

Homes that use insulation are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, meaning you don’t have to use as much energy or spend as much money on running heaters and air conditioners.

Be water wise

Did you know a leaking tap or shower head can waste almost 20,000 litres of water in a year? It’s true! So check to see if any taps around the home a leaking or dripping and look into repairing or replacing them. You might like to replace taps and faucets with water-saving versions which can save thousands of litres a year!

Build better

Building a new home? There are heaps of eco-friendly building materials out there which can make your home that bit greener. And they’re more common than you think, some include timber frames, concrete slabs and good old brick.

Get ready to recycle

Most of know what we can and can’t recycle at home, but did you know there are quite a few materials you can recycle when building or renovating your new home?

Any good quality building materials leftover after renovations or construction like timber, bricks, fencing, windows and doors can actually be sold to specialist companies who recycle this material to other builders. That means you can earn a few dollars rather than throwing these materials away! Plus, other home owners who are renovating or building get to use existing materials rather than sourcing potentially non-renewable ones. Win-win!

What will you do this Earth Day to make your home a little greener?


Auction Day

Thinking Of Becoming An Auctioneer?

Tomorrow, Saturday 18 April is World Auctioneers Day, and to celebrate this ancient profession we’ve spoken to two of Harcourts top auctioneers about their start in the business and their advice to those budding auctioneers out there.

 

Why branch into auctions?

Grow your profile and your skillset
For you as an agent, there can be many personal benefits to start auctioneering.

With 23 years in the industry, and 17 of those spent auctioneering, Chris Kennedy, Harcourts National Auction Manager in New Zealand says auctions can help to build your profile, confidence and income.

“You can definitely build your profile as an agent, and good auctioneers certainly receive accolades.”

Chris Kennedy, Harcourts National Auction Manager - Talks about starting a career in auctioning

However, auctioneering isn’t as easy as some may believe says Chris, having spent many years coaching and training those new to the role.

“There’s the lure of a relatively good income, but too often I see budding auctioneers assume auctions are easy – well that’s because seasoned auctioneers make it look easy,” says Chris.

Behind the scenes, a good auctioneer is practicing weekly. Chris himself practices with playing cards, shuffling the deck, then throwing cards down and adding the numbers.  Chris continues to practice with cards, or by counting number plates, even after 17 years calling auctions.

What qualifications do you need to become an Auctioneer?

A current Real Estate Agents Licence

In both Australia and New Zealand, auctioneers require a current Real Estate Agents Licence. In some states in Australia, such as Queensland, you also require an Auctioneers Licence. Amongst other criteria, to get an Auctioneers Licence you perform five auctions under the supervision of another auctioneer.

Knowledge of the industry

But it doesn’t just stop at formal qualifications, says Chris who believes an aspiring auctioneer should have a clear understanding of the real estate business and a good understanding of what goes into and makes a good marketing campaign.

Negotiation skills and the ability to read a crowd

“It also about being a shrewd negotiator, because you need to be the best negotiator there on the day.”

Chris believes an auctioneer needs to be able to read the crowd, and be able to work with different personalities and backgrounds.

“Being bi-lingual too is a huge bonus, particularly in Australia and New Zealand with growing migrant populations”, says Chris.

What sort of personality suits auctioneering?

“Someone who likes people and has good people skills as you need to be able to read a crowd, a buyer and the seller” confirms Mitch Peereboom, Queensland Chief Auctioneer

Mitch Peereboom, Queensland Chief Auctioneer - Talks about how you can become an auctioneer

 

The ability to read and interact with people is crucial according to both Chris and Mitch, as you need to remain calm, negotiate well and make sure all parties are happy at the same time.

“An auctioneer is someone who is naturally gregarious – peacocks we’re sometimes called!” Chris jokes.

“In all seriousness though it’s someone who is outgoing, who can tell a story, who can inject a bit of humour into the call, but also someone who understands the serious side of dealing with someone’s most valuable asset”, says Chris.

What do you look for in a new candidate or junior auctioneer?

The key: A willingness to learn. “There is a lot for a novice to take in, and whilst someone may have an outgoing personality and desire to be an auctioneer, that doesn’t mean they’re prepared to call an auction”, says Chris.

Chris has seen many new recruits struggle through their first auctions, he himself admits his first auction wasn’t his best.

“I received half an hour of training, two days before my first auction – it didn’t go well.  It wasn’t enough training to say the least”, says Chris.

Before a new recruit is ready, Chris believes you also need to be able to think strategically, and understand the complex legal side of calling an auction.

How can you get started in auctioneering?

Both Mitch and Chris started their career whilst working in sales in real estate offices, but both took different paths from there.

Mitch started spending time with the chief auctioneer in his area, attending several auctions and learning the ropes with a mentor. Chris’ principal tapped him on the shoulder and threw him into an auction the next weekend.

However Chris advises that someone starting in auctions should take Mitch’s lead and work with a senior auctioneer, attend auctions with them and practice, practice, practice.

Also don’t underestimate training. At Harcourts, we have training programmes specifically for auctioneers, and Chris suggests attending these, as well as external training if need be, citing proper training as key when starting in auctioneering.

Key points to holding a good auction

  1. Rapport with the vendor – Building trust with the owner and making sure they understand that you’re on their side.
  2. Adaptability – You need to be adaptable and reactionary, as you may be dealing with different environments, noise from passing traffic, or weather and you need to be able to command the room or space over these distractions.
  3. Transparency – Be clear, concise, and transparent with the crowd. People need to feel comfortable.
  4. Connecting with buyers – You need to be able to read the room, and know what kind of buyers you’re dealing with. What drives them.

“You want buyers to be thinking with their hearts, not just their heads. It’s important to be able to connect buyers to the property emotionally. Buyers don’t really know how much they’re willing to pay until they’re there, and it’s up to you to use this knowledge and work with that fear of loss.

Robert Tolpe Winning Auctioneer

 

How can someone overcome nerves when they’re new to auctions?

Practice

 The best way is to practice, says Mitch. You can practice in front of a mirror, but also seek feedback on how you’re doing.

Chris uses famous speeches, or tongue twisters to prep before an auction, and advises practicing in front of your colleagues as this can be more of a challenge than reciting these on your own.

“It’s natural to be nervous in front of others, but do it often enough, and it becomes easier”, says Chris.

Mitch echoes this advice, agreeing that like anything nerve-wracking, after you’ve jumped in and done it, over time, it will become easier.

Chew gum

 Practically, Chris also says you can chew gum before calling an auction or use vocal lozenges which are popular among singers, to stop the mouth from drying out when speaking publicly.

Ease into it

Chris brings new auctioneers along to his auctions, so they become familiar with the structure.  He then slowly gets them involved, more and more with each auction.

First he’ll have the new auctioneer greet and welcome everyone to the day’s auction and acknowledge the sales consultant and vendor.

The next time Chris will bring the new auctioneer in to run through the rules and formalities of the auction, and the description of the property.

Eventually the new auctioneer will also take and add bids on the day, before calling an auction of their own.

Is it worth getting into auction competitions?

According to Chris, it is definitely worth it, and at Harcourts it’s encouraged.

The reason? “The amount of time spent practicing for a competition is huge”, says Chris, who has already started practicing for a competition he’s preparing for in June – three months away!

“The practice alone makes a competition worthwhile. I guarantee you that even if you don’t win a competition, the next auction you call will be your best – the preparation is that intense!”

Auction competitions are different to holding a real auction, but the preparation requires you to do your research, practice numbers, train your voice, listen and prepare and read through scripts – that kind of practice is invaluable.

“Sometimes I’ll hear an auctioneer doesn’t want to compete when up against stiff competition – but these are the auction comps you should compete in!

“These will challenge you to go the extra mile, and winning is possible. I’ve seen novice auctioneers win competitions after dedicating themselves to preparation… I’m talking a couple of hours a day”, says Chris.

It should be noted though that auction competitions are more regimented and scripted than the real thing according to Mitch.

“The limitations are they don’t represent what happens in the field, they’re not as reactionary, so you aren’t able to hone your negotiation skills, but they will certainly help to improve some facets of auctioneering”, says Mitch.

Auctioneering can be a rewarding and lucrative career path, but it isn’t without its challenges. With training, the desire to learn and a lot of practice, auctioneering could be your next role.


Choosing good tenants will give you peace of mind to - Do more of what you love

Managing Tenant-Landlord Conflict

Managing conflict of any description is never pleasant, but when it comes to managing conflict between yourself as a landlord and your tenant, the stress can really mount, and if the issue is left unresolved can cause serious issues.

That’s where a property manager can really save you a lot of hassle, stress and time. Property managers lend an impartial ear to both sides of the conflict, and have a good understanding of tenancy laws and your rights and responsibilities as a landlord.

Here are just some of the ways a property manager can help you to manage tenant-landlord conflict.

Communication

The best way to prevent issues or conflict from ever arising is to keep in regular contact with your tenants, checking in and making sure they are kept across any changes.

Understandably, many of us don’t have time to be checking in with our tenants on a regular basis or keeping across every detail – but a property manager does. It’s a property manager’s role to keep tenants and landlords informed of what’s going on at a property or with a lease agreement.

Keeping in regular communication with tenants can prevent issues from occurring down the track.

Tenancy laws

A common cause of dispute between landlords and tenants can stem from a lack of knowledge about your state/country’s tenancy laws.

Property managers need to be across the relevant tenancy laws in their state, and will always be able to advise landlords and tenants of their responsibilities and obligations under state tenancy laws.

Property Condition Reports

Property Managers know the ins and outs of property condition reporting and can perform these or organise to have them performed on your behalf.

Property condition reports protect you from potential conflict with your tenants down the track by ensuring photos, and detailed descriptions are taken for the property at the start of a lease agreement. This means if any damage is found when the tenant moves on, you’re both protected by a condition report which can easily prove if the damage was existing or not.

Organising repairs

If the conflict arises from a breakage or needed repair at the property, a property manager can quickly arrange for this issue to be fixed on your behalf.

Property managers also have access to preferred tradespeople they know provide a quality service at a fair price, and know who is likely able to help on short notice – this alone can save you and your tenant from any more frustration.

Un-biased opinion

Sometimes someone who is removed from a situation financially is best placed to handle disputes and disagreements in a fair manner.

At times, both tenants and landlords can become passionate about a situation, having an un-biased mediator to talk with both parties and understand the situation can lead to a quicker and fairer result.

Court hearings

If a dispute can’t be resolved, a property manager can appear on your behalf to provide evidence and handle complaints which are referred to an administrative tribunal.

Property managers are required to keep detailed records of an agreement, inspections and even conversations, all of which are helpful when disputes escalate.

You could always go about handling conflict resolution yourself, but you deserve to be doing more of what you love. At Harcourts our property managers are skilled in handling landlord-tenant conflict. They have an understanding of landlord-tenant law and can serve as the middleman or buffer for any problems.

 


Our team would be glad to tell you more about our property management services in your area.

 

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